(Here's mine, feel free to add your own and comment )
This morning I was out of the house at a few minutes to 7am to get up to McKinney for the 8am start. I got there just as the last of the lots were full and parked on the grass near the middle school (?). I decided at the last minute to take the Flyte. I had been planning on taking the Gazelle to this ride, but after last weekend's tire trouble I wasn't too confident in the front wheel, nor the rear one. I quickly unpacked the bike and went over to Registration. Enter the first of 3 minor errors the day would hold - I forgot to grab safety pins for the ride number. So I quickly grabbed the bike and walked back over to the registration table to grab some. Put the number on and rode over to the mass of cyclists (2000+ this year) preparing for the start.
But something felt amiss. Something wasn't adding up, and as I cruised to a stop in the group I realized what it was... no gloves... and no helmet! Crap, they were back at the truck, and quickly glanced around trying to get my bearings on what direction THAT was. No sooner had I figured that out, the ride officials started the ride. So I did the only thing I could, grabbed the bike, and jogged across the large grassy area back to my truck. Somewhere along the line I heard and saw RC_Spinner. Sorry I took off on you dude, my truck was a ways off and didn't want to get separated from the longer distance groups too much. Hope you didn't try waiting for me!
Got to the truck, found the helmet, threw it on and was back on the bike riding quickly for the long line of cyclists still rolling out of the HS parking lot. I think I merged in with the 22mi group, and I had planned on riding the 34mi route today. I needed to gain some ground so I would hopefully have some other people to ride and share the wind with later in the ride. I slowly made my way around to the left of the slower cyclists, and slowly settled into a pace.
By the first rest stop I had fell into a section of cyclists doing about the same pace I wanted to, though was still passing a fair number along the way as well. I decided to pass up the first rest stop in order to gain ground from my late start, plus didn't really feel like I needed a stop quite yet. Shortly after a group of riders doing a significant faster pace started passing to the right, I heard a shout from behind me calling my name. Glace back to see Paniolo rolling past with the group. As the last of the group pass I jump on the back end and crank up the speed. We're now rolling at a swift 20-23mph and I'm happy to have found a good group to roll with. Never made it back up to Paniolo to let him know I was hanging on, each time I tried to move forward I'd get blocked in by a slower cyclist on the right, or pull back in to avoid traffic on the right. Apparently someone decided to put the 34mi turn off in the middle of a very fast downhill stretch, where I was rolling along at a good 30mph or better in the pace line. I knew there was no way I would manage a safe turn by the time I noticed the marking in the road and the guy directing traffic. So I continued on with the pace line, deciding that I felt good enough to push on to the next rest stop and decide if I wanted to turn back to the 34mi route or continue for the 47mi.
Of course, Paniolo and crew pass up that rest stop, and I, following along, do so too. Shortly after they turn up to the 55mi route, one turn I was not feeling strong enough to follow them down. I continued on for the 47mi route, slowing down a bit as I was starting to feel the 23+mi of hard riding in the saddle non-stop. The route turned south, more into the light wind, and I found myself out alone on the road with a good 100-200m or more up to the next loose group. I put my head down and just did a steady comfortable pace till I caught a few, and eventually passed them. Some time along this road, KevinMcDade and a large pack of fast rollers flew past me, rolling at a pace I knew I'd never be able to match nor hold.
I rolled into the first rest stop of the day, thankful to be off the bike and be able to stretch my back, fill the bottles full of ice and grab a small snack to refuel. I hadn't had the best breakfast to start the day, thinking I was only going for a 34mi ride and needed some carbs to get me through the end. I hopped back on the bike and was off again, keeping a fairly light pace of somewhere in the 16-17.5 range till another small group passed me that looked fairly organized. I decided to see if I could hang on to this group for a while and was quickly rolling along with them at about 20-22. A couple other riders join on here and there, and a group of about 6 riders maintained this pace for about the next 7-8mi before I finally sat up and let them roll on ahead. I was starting to feel the heat and needed a breather. Thankfully the signs stating the next rest stop was ahead soon came into view.
The last rest stop I found a bit of shade and a chair for a few minutes, downing some water. Ride volunteers claimed the finish was only about 6.5mi ahead, though my cyclometer still showed me a good 9-10mi from rolling over to 47mi. I had already made it farther than I did last year when I had to SAG out a few miles before the last rest stop, and there was no way I was going to have a repeat of that again this year. Back on the bike, feeling decent for already covering 35mi for the day after so few miles over the last month or so. The rest of the ride was more or less uneventful. Kept a decent pace, snapped a few photos (will upload and post soon) and rolled back into McKinney North HS under my own power. Rode straight to the truck, already being out longer than I'd told the wife, and started packing up. Stopped for a moment to talk to another cyclist (damn I'm bad with names) that I had met along the ride and invited him to stop by BikeForums some time soon and say hello.
Bike: Flyte SRS-3 w/ Campagnolo Centaur
Distance: 43.56mi (guess the guy at the rest stop was right, ride was shorter than advertised)
Ride Time: 2:22:00 (that's somewhat freaky)
Avg Speed: 18.4 mph (Was as high as 18.9, 18.6 was seen still only a mile or so from the end)
Max Speed: 37.5 mph (downhill, probably trying to hang on to one of the groups)